Transhumanism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Transhumanism is a philosophy and worldview that is represented through the educational projects at Humanity+. Below is the Transhumanist Manifesto, with links to the philosophy, the Transhumanist Declaration, and Transhumanist FAQ.

Transhumanist Manifesto

by Natasha Vita-More 1983
(Revised 1998 v.2, 2008 v.3, 2020 v.4)

The Transhumanist Manifesto challenges the human condition. This condition asserts that aging is a disease, augmentation and enhancement to the human body and brain are essential for survival, and that human life is not restricted to any one form or environment.

Understanding these conditions are core to the philosophy and worldview of transhumanism and advocate for the ethical use of technology and evidence-based science to intervene and effectively mitigate aging and to retreat from “genetic liability by advancing genetic liberty”. These actions must be reached with a mindful, reasonable approach.

Human Aging: The Option of Ageless Thinking

Aging is a disease. The aim is to mitigate aging and amend human lifespans beyond the maximum time frame as a biological state where disease affects everyone to varying degrees, ultimately programed for death. New technologies and advances in science, along with social reforms on aging, will build a positive outlook and practical conviction for the future. First, we need to start with the way people think about ageing. By this Ageless means to practice an active and enthusiastic state physically and mentally. Ageless Thinking is advantageous to optimal living and counters the biases of ageist behaviors that restrict and damper peoples’ purposefulness in life.

What disturbs people’s minds is not events but their judgments on events.”
— Epictetus, 500 BC

It is known that medical interventions that mitigate disease and aim to restore health and well-being have advanced exponentially. Genomics has made it possible to predict, diagnose, and treat diseases with more precision and focused on personalized care. While the medical science is advancing, this does not resolve the issue of human biology and the maximum lifespan. To ameliorate this liability and until aging is resolved through nanomedicine and other innovations, augmentation and enhancement to the human body and brain are essential for survival. To seek this end goal, the seminal future body prototype known as “Primo Posthuman” (1996) developed the concept of a tertiary brain referred to as the Metabrain. The Metabrain could be arrived at through an AI/AGI engineered prothesis to the cortex and limbic systems for the purposes of aiding the human brain where faltering, providing a storage system for memory, and augmenting intelligence.

Each person deserves the right of genetic liberty. People have a fundamental right to own their body, shape who they are, and live their lives. Morphological Freedom meets this condition by protecting a person’s right to augment and enhance and protects a person’s right never to be coerced to augment and enhance.

Human life is not restricted to any one form or by any one environment. Environments are the sole factor for the existence of life whether it be the biosphere on earth, digitality of cyberspace, artificial simulations of virtual reality, or the life support systems within outer space. To maintain existence, all environments require safe and healthy infrastructures that protect life and eliminate threats to life.

A Vision for Shared Appreciation of Life and Purpose

People create theories and related opinions that can bring about discord and divisiveness by pitting one belief against another with false assumptions and suggest one group as being more or less worthy than another based on age, gender, race, appearance, religion, beliefs, and political and social status. This sentiment is not about biology or human evolution; it is about a human need to control that is triggered by fear, greed, and uncertainty. Humanity needs a change—a new outlook that helps us become more humane.

This something new is transhumanism[i]—a worldview that seeks a quality of life that brings about perpetual progress, self-transformation, practical optimism, visionary solutions, and critical thinking—the transhuman.

The transhuman[ii] is a biological-technological organism, a transformation of the human species that continues to evolve with technology. This evolution is understood within the fields of paleontology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, and anthropology. It is further studied and understood in philosophical discourse and social and cultural studies. It is made aware and realized through advances in technology that bring about human-computer interaction, wearable devices, and computerized communication infrastructures. It is evidenced in medical science and scientific breakthroughs that identify genetic mutation and target disease as well as research and development of gene therapies that aim to reverse and restore cellular damage of biological system. On an environmental level, it is experienced in spaceflight by astronauts adapting to environments beyond earth. On an interactive level, it is experienced in the personalized avatar and character usage of virtual reality, augmented reality, video games, and other artificial environments.

Life Extension & Expansion

Life extension aims to increase the maximum human lifespan. Life expansion means increasing the length of time a person is alive and diversifying the matter in which increasing options and capabilities a person exists. For human life, the length of time is bounded by a single century and its matter is tied to biology.

To pursue longevity, it is crucial to uncover visible and invisible borders between interconnecting forces that disrupt health and well-being. It is also necessary to actively address ethical concerns about science and technology with reasonable defense, to protect human rights, including morphological freedom[iii].

Transhumanism is the first philosophy and worldview to publicly proclaim the need to eradicate disease and to advocate for longevity and ageless thinking. Transhumanists have contributed toward the ideas, research, development, and education of longevity through science, technology and addressed governing bodies and groups on the ethical use of technology such as AI, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering.

Transhumanists are the world’s strongest advocacy for a positive future of health, well-being, and prosperity for every human.

I Would Rather be a Transhuman than a Cyborg

The technology for transhuman transformation emerges from cybernetics. It is here where concepts of the human and machine integrate and the computer begins to interact (Wiener 1950:163)[iv] with the human body and its biology, bringing about the concept of the cyborg. Comparisons are often drawn between the cyborg and the transhuman deliberately and also unwittingly. A cyborg is positioned as an endpoint for the integration of human, machine, and computer; however, the transhuman is a continuous human evolution. This evolution includes a confluence of organic human, technological advances in AI, nanomedicine, and gene therapies that mitigate disease, the devices and prosthetics and enhance biology that append biology, and an awareness of personal identity, as a transformative, telematic, and expanded agency that expands through new tech-communication systems.

The cyborg, no matter how sophisticated the augmentations and implants or written essays on the topic, as articulated by Professors Steven Mann[v], Kevin Warwick[vi], or Donna Haraway[vii] has yet to address issues of life extension. This area is most distinctly in concert with the transhuman as one obvious outcome of an enhanced person that seeks to life extension and to engage alternative options for perceptual, cognitive, and physical bodies[viii].

A problem in the blurring of cyborg and transhuman (or future posthuman) proposes a tripartite delineation as follows:

“- the field of cybernetics parlayed the cyborg into existence through the relationship between the human and its man-machine augmentation (Clynes & Kline 1960)”[ix] [for the purposes of space exploration and did not foresee biotechnology, AI, or nanotechnology  as bringing about an adaptive, evolutionary human—the transhuman];

“- the field of philosophy parlayed the transhuman into culture as a transitional stage of human transformation and regenerative processes and selective enhancement, more currently referred to as the activist and recipient of human enhancement …(More 1990; Bostrom 2005)[x].

“- the field of science fiction parlayed the posthuman into the arts (Pepperell 1995)[xi], now more currently aligned with artificial general intelligence and artificial platforms of the “upload” whole brain emulation and/or substrate-independent minds (Sandberg & Koene 2009)”[xii].

Simply adding gadgetry to our bodies will not make us modern or evolved, nor will designing new bodies and environment to inhabit without a transdisciplinary strategy. The human body and its diversification require a cross-pollination of ideas to foster conjectural, multidimensional processes for addressing complex issues of machine and human. Human perception weaves cognition and bodily processes to transmit and translate information, which the patterns reflect an array of molecular activities of biology. Future human use of nano molecules of nanotechnology could work in concert with biology (Drexler, 1987)[xiii]. The elements of molecular assembly will help to build new types of bodies, such as Platform Diverse Body (Vita-More, 1997) (2013)[xiv].

Transhumanist Political Potential & Sensibility

The phrase Transhumanist Politics refers to the various political views that support and endorse the transhumanist agenda.

Transhumanist Politics can be traced back to 1992 when [Vita-More] ran for office in Los Angeles County representing the 28th State Senate District for County Councilperson. was elected on the Green Party ticket with a platform endorsing technology for mitigating environmental issues such as pollution and climate change. (Vita-More, 1992)

The Transhumanist Platform was established to bring to the mainstream an awareness of emerging technologies that could be used to counter environmental problems, including pollution and climate change, and to protect all life forms in a defensible, healthy ecosystem. However, this just one of the many issues that diplomatic policy-making needs to be realized.

In 2004, Extropy Institute sponsored the Vital Progress Summit in an attempt to counter the Beyond Therapy Report authored by members of the US President’s Bioethics Council. The Vital Progress Summit resulted in what is known as the Proactionary Principle. This principle is an indispensable, ethical decision-making principle that offers a balanced approach to access risks and opportunities by placing the burden of proof on all sides of the debate.

There are numerous approaches to developing political advocacy in support of a transhumanist agenda, which serves a greater purpose than political tribes that use politics to argue personal moral beliefs in the name of politics. Most transhumanists are diverse and are more interested in problems solving than aligning with a political position; however, with the caveat that the positions support and advocate the goals of transhumanism. Acknowledgement should be given to groups throughout the world that focus on the political spectrum that classifies different political views and independent political dimensions. As stated in Transhumanism: What is it?:

Transhuman politics are diverse and while many of us are left ([technoprogressive], liberal, socialist, green) [, and some of us are in the middle [technoproactive], and others toward the right (conservative, libertarian), many are independent. No matter left or right all these political views are democratic transhumanists. Transhuman or Transhumanist politics is currently focused on a collaborative perspective. Most transhumanists today align with Technoprogressive politics, as outlined in its Declaration. [xv]

It has been far too long since a transhumanist has been elected to office. While transhumanists have been seen on party tickets in the US and Europe and also running as independents and others who have developed advocacy through the media but not been elected, all their efforts are valued and the Transhumanist Manifesto supports their positive, knowledgeable and sincere efforts over the years.

In 2019, a new approach was proposed as Global Transhumanist Advocacy Political Action Committee (PAC). However, this idea has yet to unfold and remains open to collaboration with the aforementioned political groups, advocacy, and individuals who seek changes in political structures worldwide.

The Transhumanist Manifesto validates and substantiates the need for collaboration among the diverse transhumanist political outreach that aims to change policies and laws that defend human rights, especially for life extension sciences and technologies, ownership of one’s body, the right to optional death (cryonics).

Beyond Prejudice / Toward Truth

“There is no government, no industrial-military complex, no economic system,
no mass media that can ever reduce us to puppets and robots as thoroughly
as the biological and environmental dictatorships have.”

——F.M.Esfandiary, Upwingers

Transhumanism offers a new philosophical approach to the human condition while simultaneously expanding upon antecedents—the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Modernism, and Postmodernism. This philosophical approach builds upon social movements that shaped society—the Suffragettes and Feminism, Civil Rights Movement, LGBT Rights, Animal Advocacy, and Environmentalism. Transhumanism values the corroboratory affirmation of human potential to overcome societal impediments and to strive for justice for all but does not see the human as the final stage of our species evolution.

Transhumanism accepts certain human enculturated behaviors as held between types of people but does not support the notions of a universal human nature. By this, transhumanism does not support economic, religious, or political absolutes or biases that aim to constrain and curtail peoples’ rights and freedoms. Rather than being divisive about religious and political views, transhumanism seeks a meta focus on healthy longevity as a positive end point rather than the path each person travels to get there. To support this end point, transhumanism advocates for legal wins within the medical, technological, and scientific domains that will help develop longevity research and development as well as personal freedoms for end of life choices. More awareness must be ignited for success in reaching the positive end point, which includes targeted global advocacy for education that focuses on humanity’s future.

Transhumanism recognizes the uniqueness of people and the need to overcome irrelevant bias of age, race, gender, appearance, religion, beliefs, and political and social status, and supports gender diversity to include rather than exclude a heightened awareness of the potential multiplicities of gender and sexual options. In this transitional process, the transhuman sheds worn-out biases and integrates new values and methods for longevity—extending the maximum lifespan, improve biology, and increase mental acuity.

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  1. Beyond Mortality: The disease of aging leaves people helpless, locked in a system of sickness and death rather than a system of healthcare and life. We need new technology, science and social structures that promote positive conditions rather than negative conditions.
  2. Beyond Scarcity: We must improve global quality of life. An economy of abundance is not about how much; it is about how good—a quality of life that provide basic human needs, freedom, well-being, and that advances opportunity and potential.
  3. Beyond Cruelty: Discrimination of people because of sex, age, race, gender, appearance, religion, beliefs, and political and social status are global, verifiable, and prevalent. What would society need to overcome misperception and cognitive bias? With an abundance of compassion, discrimination has no place or purpose.[xvi]

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Transhumanist Manifesto 1983/1998

I am transhuman.
In an aim to integrate creativity and reason
for the purpose of self-awareness and longevity
—promoted by persistence
aware of odds, informed by risk,
alert to new discovery, welcoming challenge,
ever-changing—
I become.

I am the architect of my existence. My life reflects my vision and represents my values. It conveys the very essence of my being—coalescing imagination and reason, challenging all limits.

Transhumanism calls upon a heightened sensibility to reveal the multiplicity of realms yet to be discovered, yet to be realized. We are exploring how current and future technologies affect our senses, our cognition, and our lives. Our attention to and comprehension of these relationships become fields of art as we participate in the most immediate and vital issues for transhumanity: extending life, augmenting intelligence, and creativity, exploring the universe.

Transhumanists invent and design with technology and collaborate with the cosmos, perform in multiple realities, automorph mind and body, conceive, innovate, and explore. We indelibly engrave longevity memes. We are the neo-cyberneticists utilizing high-end creativity, engineering skills, scientific data, and automated tools to author our visions.

Transhumanists encourage experimentation and attitudes of abundance and emphasizes the infinite possibilities of self-transformation as we seek new values indispensable to our self-creation. We have no interest in focusing on self-defeating thinking or entropy. We are achieving refined emotions through provocative forward thinking and analytical techniques.

Each person influences social and cultural change: how we live and who we are. Each person creates a sense of self, autonomous yet connected to culture’s continuum. How we accomplish our intentions is a matter of selective individual choice—whether abstract or concrete, whether artefact or non-form. Our criteria for art remain open and we welcome cross-disciplinary innovations.

Our unique ingenuity will spread far out into the capillaries of society. We are active participants in our own evolution. We are shaping the image of whom we are becoming (1983 v.1; 1998 v.2.).


Reference Endnotes

[i] More, M. (1990) Transhumanism: Toward a Futurist Philosophy. In Extropy Magazine. Vol. 4, No. 1.

[ii] [Vita-More, N. and Clark, W. (1988-1995). Note: The research on the history of the term “transhuman” and “transhumanism” was completed Winifred Clark and Natasha Vita-More during the mid-1990s: “As an historical note, the Italian verb “transumanare” or “transumanar” was used for the first time by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) in the Divine Comedy. It means “go outside the human condition and perception” and in English could be “to Transhumanate” or “to Transhumanize.” T.S. Eliot wrote about the risks of the human journey in becoming illuminated as a “process by which the human is Transhumanised” (1950:147) in his play “The Cocktail Party” (1950). The actual concept of transhuman as an evolutionary transition was first expressed by FM-2030 (f/k/a FM Esfandiary). His trilogy, Optimism One (1970), Up-Wingers (1973)and Telespheres (1977) comprises his unique ideas about the transhuman, some of which were mentioned in the final chapter of Woman In The Year 2000 (1974). Ideas about humanity and evolution were explored by Julian Huxley in his writings on evolutionary humanism in the book Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (1942) and suggested the term transhuman for a “superior being aware of his potential and able to work toward it because of his knowledge” (Halacy 1965:11). Pierre Teilhard de Chardin referenced the transhuman in The Future of Man (2004) and, in 1966, FM-2030 (fka FM Esfandiary) outlined an evolutionary transhuman future while teaching “New Concepts of the Human” at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Abraham Maslow referred to transhumans in Toward a Psychology of Being (1968), Robert Ettinger also referred to transhumans in Man into Superman (1972), the author wrote the “Transhuman Manifesto” (1982), and Damien Broderick discusses the transhuman in the science fiction novel The Judas Mandala (1982), and by Natasha Vita-More in the “Transhuman Manifesto” (1983).

[iii] Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphological_freedom

[iv] Wiener, N. (1950) The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics. New York: Da Capo Press, pp. x, 58, 95, 103, 134-135, 163.

[v] Mann, S. (May 1998) WEARABLE COMPUTING as a means for PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT. Keynote address titled presented at the 1998 International Conference on Wearable Computing ICWC-98, Fairfax VA.

[vi] Warwick, K. (2004) I, Cyborg. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, p. 4.

[vii] Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, pp. 3-5, 149-181.

[viii] “Primo Posthuman”. (1996). The seminal future whole-body prosthetic device that offers a regenerative semi-biological body, fostered by AI and nanomedicine. This body is an alternative to a frail and unfunctioning human body. Available: https://www.kurzweilai.net/radical-body-design-primo-posthuman

[ix] Wiener, N. (1950) The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics. New York: Da Capo Press, pp. x, 58, 95, 103, 134-135, 163.

[x] Bostrom, N. (2005) A History of Transhumanist Thought. In Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 1

[xi] Pepperell, R. (1995) The Post-Human Condition. Bristol, UK: Intellect.

[xii] Sandberg, A. and Koene, R. (3 October 2009) Anders Sandberg and Randal Koene On Whole Brain Emulation. In H+ Magazine. See http://hplusmagazine.com/2009/10/03/singularity-summit-anders-sandberg-and-randal-keone-whole-brain-emulation/

[xiii] Drexler, E. (1987) Engines of Creation. Harpswell, ME: Anchor, pp. v, 4, 213.

[xiv] Vita-More, N. (March 2012) Life Expansion. Plymouth, UK. University of Plymouth. https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/1182. (2013) Body by Design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVG2MbpHd4o

[xv] Vita-More, N. (2018). Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/TRANSHUMANISM-What-Natasha-Vita-More/dp/0578405075

[xvi] Goertzel, B. and Vita-More, N. (2020). H+ Summit 2020. https://humanityplus.org/projects/humanity-conferences/